Four Steps to Success for Enterprise Social Media

An enterprise social media rollout may seem daunting, but a new Forrester Research report recommends four key steps to help it go smoothly. Also, can a CIO use social media to create business advantages?

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Thu, April 01, 2010

CIO — Mention a phrase with the word "social" in it, and many CIOs will cringe. It elicits visions of data breaches, privacy nightmares and unproductive Gen Y staffers. But whether you like it or not, there's no denying social media's presence in the enterprise.

Contrary to what some IT stalwarts may think, many employees are using it for good, Forrester Research finds in a new report. Respondents cite "staying up to date with news," "getting ideas to help me in my job" and "to research information for work" as the top three reasons for engaging in social media. As a result of social media's reach, more CIOs are looking to set a policy and stage a social media rollout.

In The CIO's Guide To Social Computing Leadership, Forrester says that CIOs must position IT to lead a corporate social computing strategy. "There is a perception among some that 'social' is a marketing thing and that IT shouldn't be involved," says Nigel Fenwick, VP and principle analyst at Forrester. "It seems that this is also a perception from many people in marketing, too. But it's better to work collaboratively between marketing and IT," he says.

According to the survey, "CIOs can and should take a leadership role in this transition, helping to broker the changes needed across the organization and to garner executive support to take full advantage of social computing." To do this successfully, Forrester advises following four steps that encompass people, business objectives, strategy and technologies.

1. Understand the people you're engaging. Profile your employees and any participating customers to understand your demographics and gauge how active they already are in social media. Forrester cites that usually, the top types of users at any given business are spectators (those who maintain a blog or webpage and upload videos or audio), joiners (defined as people who maintain social networking profiles), critics (those who react to online content by posting comments, ratings or reviews) and conversationalists (people interested in microblogging).

2. Determine Your Business Objectives. "Early examples of successful social communities in use within organizations demonstrate the ability to solve multiple objectives because these communities provide multiple layers of social activities," the report states. Try focusing your objectives on innovation (such as a video-posting site where employees are encouraged to submit ideas), collaboration (project groups where members can IM each other, post ideas to a wiki and share documents), support (such as a discussion community where employees can post and answer questions), learning (like a Facebook site where employees can search based on expertise) and archiving (which encompasses document sharing with community tagging to highlight relevance and value), Forrester recommends.

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